As technology marches ever forward, some devices become part of the mainstream without a lot of people noticing. One type of new device that is having a dramatic impact, but has received little notice, is the Interactive Public Display (ID).
You don’t have to go far to bump into an IPD, a trip to Wal-Mart or the local grocery store will generally suffice. Or perhaps you might find one at the local library or museum, or school-that’s because it seems they have become ubiquitous-they’re everywhere. But why are they suddenly here and how are they changing the lives of people today?
They got here because of advances in display technology. People can walk up to an IPD and interact with it by touching it, talking or by using another object such as a stylus. IPD’s are more sensitive, higher definition and have more computer power than yesterday’s desktop computers. They’re also connected, to local databases, or more commonly, to the Internet, which imbues them with the power to display data about virtually anything people can dream up.
But, IPD’s cost more than printed banners or simple digital displays, so why are company’s spending money to create and deploy them? In most cases, it seems to be because they are more effective at drawing attention. As an example, a group of researchers working with Looking Glass, an online research group, recently conducted a series of field studies that compared different types of public advertising. They found that ID’s are far more effective in drawing and holding attention than any other medium. More importantly perhaps, they found out why-it’s because they can be used to discern what is most important to a person and use that to grab their attention. They are able to do this by using information obtained via security cameras connected to powerful computers and massive databases. Say you walk into a store at the mall, you might notice a camera pointed at you. In day’s past its sole purpose was to catch shoplifters, now, such cameras are used to scan faces and body types-information that can reveal gender, race and age which in turn can be used to pull up advertising that matches the customer-it’s then displayed on the IPD. Once the IPD gets the customers attention, it can hold it by allowing the customer to peruse items for sale that match what they are looking for.
It doesn’t end here of course, work on camera and display technology are continuing to evolve and may one day lead to systems that can identify people individually, which would allow for tracking not just purchases, but events people attend, things that look at, people they talk to, etc. All in the name of providing people with a better experience when facing a IPD.